How did you feel when Buhari was declared winner of the presidential election?I felt extremely happy far more than I can express in words, because in the first place for me, it is a life mission and ambition that have been accomplished within a period of 14 years. I spent the whole night here watching the collation of the results in great anticipation and with great hope and confidence as the night went on.I could see the numbers were building up, the spread was being achieved, the percentages were adding up clearly my heart was beating with incredible degree of speed in anticipation. When he was declared clearly, I was over the roof with happiness and I now feel highly accomplished.Prior to Election Day, did you expect Buhari to win?Frankly speaking, I expected him to win. I feel that in any election, that is credible, free and fair, on any day, General Buhari will win. In 2003, which was our first time of outing, we won the election; we have the results, because initially it was free and fair. But when it was realised that clearly we won the election, INEC was instructed to announce Obasanjo as the winner of the election without any results.So, there is nothing new in the possibility of winning election by Buhari, even though clearly, of course, situations have changed somewhat. The negative image that Buhari was given by a section of the Nigerian press and elite over the period of 14 years has come to be wiped out substantially, and people began to see him as a true national leader, patriot and someone with the sense of mission and purpose that can fix things in Nigeria.You were his campaign DG three times, but he didn’t win all that time, but today, he is the president-elect. What do you think are the factors that made him not to win then and those that made him to win now?We have consistently won not less than 12 million votes since 2003 up until this year too. The difference is that General Buhari, one, has become more popular in the southern part of Nigeria generally. Two, the abysmal performance of the PDP government under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan.Three, the security situation and challenges in the country through the last few years, in particular in the last one and half years. Four, the unprecedented event of invading Nigeria and declaring parts of Nigeria as a sovereign independent land. Five, the general consensus in Nigeria that there must be change in the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to recreate condition for the Nigerian people to reconnect with their government, mobilise efforts and re-establish security, order and credibility in the management of public affairs, including the elimination of corruption and graft in the administration of Nigerian.Throughout history, it has never happened anywhere in the world for a government that saw the invasion of its territory to go into election and win. It has never happened, and there is no reason why it will happen in Nigeria.Some attribute the victory to the merger that took place among the major opposition political parties; don’t you think so?There is no doubt that the merger has created a much bigger political party that has created an image of national spread and inclusiveness; that has helped in scoring the victory, particularly as regards the south west.Even before the official results were announced, President Jonathan called Buhari to congratulate him; what does that portend for our democracy?I think it was a very significant event. For President Jonathan to have done so, he has created an unprecedented, credible and constructive tradition in the transfer of power of one government handing over to another. He has helped by his action to create a precedence that has stabilised the security and political situation in the country and established in all forms and shapes that democracy is beginning to mature in our country.What message do you have for the outgoing government, the incoming one and Nigerians?My message first for Nigerians is that they should be realistic in their expectation on what the incoming government is going to be able to deliver. We’re entering a period of great difficulty. Oil prices have collapsed, therefore the income for the government will go down significantly. The [problem of unemployment cannot be resolved in one day; the security challenges that we face require attention, organisation, resources and management, and this will take quite a bit of time. Things will no doubt improve but not overnight.As for the outgoing government, I call on them to extend their hands of cooperation to the incoming administration by assisting in having a smooth transition in all the departments of government.On the part of the incoming government, I advise them to exercise some patience and understanding as regards to the pressing issues they’re going to face-to-face. I advise them to follow the declaration of the president-elect when he expressed his desire to work harmoniously with the outgoing administration by extending his hands of friendship and partnership to them. I hope all the people that will be involved in the new government will accept the position of the president-elect.
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